ASHEVILLE – N.C. Department of Transportation crews across the western mountains have been preparing for a significant winter storm while their counterparts in the High Country have already cleared snow this week.
Transportation teams from Murphy to Mount Airy will all be working around the clock to keep interstates, highways and state roads as safe as possible before, during and after this early winter storm.
Crews in the elevated mountains — from Madison to Wilkes counties — started clearing various amounts of snow and ice on Tuesday from a separate storm. Crews have been working around the clock to clear and treat those roads before this next major storm. They have spread more than 815 tons of salt and 575 tons of a salt and sand mixture.
Maintenance teams in all western mountain counties have been preparing for winter events since October when they filled storage facilities with salt and sand, tested all equipment and inspected the routes they’ll clear this weekend.
NCDOT employees are applying a salt brine solution, which will help prevent ice from bonding to roadways, on interstates and primary highways.
The spraying vehicles will be travelling at speeds slower than the posted limit in order to properly apply the liquid. As with driving in any winter condition, it’s best to increase following distance behind these large vehicles.
Most county maintenance teams are already on 24-hour operations and all others will join day-and-night shifts by this evening. NCDOT operators will work around the clock until all roads are clear.
To help support teams in the likely direct path of the storm, NCDOT will be staging equipment and personnel at critical locations across western North Carolina — such as Saluda Grade on I-26, Old Fort Mountain on I-40 and in Surry County on I-77 — in order to keep these locations passable.
The scope of this storm — in both precipitation amounts and its longevity — could extend the period of time that NCDOT operators need to clear all of the state maintained roads impacted by the storm.